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in the Spirituality
I. On Spiritual Direction
II. On Leadership and Authority
Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality,
especially lor American Jesuits working out their aggiornamento
in the spirit of Vatican Council II
Vol. IV March, 1972 No. 2
THE AMERICAN ASSISTANCY SEMINAR ON JESUIT SPIRITUALITY
consists of a group of Jesuits from various provinces who are listed below.
The members were appointed by the Fathers Provincial of the United States
in their meeting of October 3~9, 1968. The purpose of the Seminar is to
study topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of Jesuits,
especially American Jesuits, and to communicate the results to the members
of the Assistancy. The hope is that this will lead to further discussion
among all American Jesuits — in private, or in small groups, or in commun-
ity meetings. All this is done in the spirit of Vatican Council II 's rec-
ommendation to religious institutes to recapture the original charismatic
inspiration of their founders and to adapt it to the changed circumstances
of modern times. The members of the Seminar welcome reactions or comments
in regard to the topics they publish.
To achieve these purposes, especially amid today's pluralistic cul-
tures, the Seminar must focus its direct attention sharply, frankly, and
specifically on the problems, interests, and opportunities of the Jesuits
of the United States. However, many of these interests are common also
to Jesuits of other regions, or to other priests, religious men or women,
or lay men or women. Hence the studies of the Seminar, while meant es-
pecially for American Jesuits, are not exclusively for them. Others who
may find them helpful are cordially welcome to read them.
THE MEMBERS OP THE SEMINAR ARE:
William J. Burke, S.J., Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02167
Thomas E. Clarke, S.J., Woodstock College, 475 Riverside Drive, New York,
New York 1 0027
James J. Doyle, S.J., Bellarmine School of Theology, 5430 University
Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 6061 5
John C. Putrell, S.J., School of Divinity, St. Louis University, 220 North
Spring Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri 63108
George E. Ganss, S.J., School of Divinity, St. Louis University. His
address is: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, Fusz Memorial,
3700 West Pine, St. Louis, Missouri 631 08. (Chairman of
the Assistancy Seminar and Editor of its Studies)
Hugo J. Gerleman, S.J., The Institute of Jesuit Sources, Fusz Memorial
3700 West Pine, St. Louis, Missouri 63108. (Secretary of
the Assistancy Seminar)
John C. Haughey, S.J., America Staff, 106 W. 56th St., New York, N.Y. 10019
David B. Knight, S.J., Loyola University, New Orleans, La. 70118
Vincent J. O'Flaherty, S.J., Rockhurst College, Kansas City, Missouri 64110
John R. Sheets, S.J., Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
John H. Wright, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 Le Roy Street,
Berkeley, California 94709
Copyright, 1972 , by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality
Fusz Memorial, St. Louis University
3700 West Pine Boulevard
St. Louis, Missouri 63108
in the Spirituality
I. On Spiritual Direction
II. On Leadership and Authority
Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality,
especially for American Jesuits working out their aggiomamento
in the spirit of Vatican Council II
Vol. IV March, 1972 No. 2
Editor's Foreword iv
A DISCUSSION ON SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
I. Introduction, by John H. Wright, S.J. 41
II. A Summary of the Discussion 46
A DISCUSSION ON LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY
I. Introduction, by John R. Sheets, S.J. 53
II. Comments, from Different Points of View, by:
A. William W. Meissner, S.J. 76
B. William J. Burke, S.J. 78
C. Thomas E. Clarke, S.J. 79
D. John H. Wright, S.J. 80
A Check List: Books Available from the Institute of Jesuit Sources 82
The Titles of the Previous Issues of These Studies 84
Editor 1 s Foreword
The ordinary procedure in the meetings of the Assistancy Seminar
consists of discussing a paper or papers previously prepared and distrib-
uted by one of the members. However, on some occasions when time permits
something else is added: round table exploration of one or another topic
which seems currently important. Resumes of two such exploratory dis-
cussions make up the present issue of these Studies .
The first, on Spiritual Direction, was held on February 1 , 1970.
Father John H. Wright presented some brief and pointed introductory re-
marks, which were followed by free-ranging discussion. Subsequently he
slightly revised his introduction and also compiled the summary of the
remarks made in the discussion.
The second, on Leadership and Authority, took place on April 17 and
18, 1971. Father John R. Sheets introduced the topic, and others pre-
viously assigned offered comments from specific points of view: our
invited guest, Father William W. Meissner, S.J., and our members, Fathers
William J. Burke, Thomas E. Clarke, and John H. Wright. Father Sheets
too subsequently revised his introduction into the form found below. The
report on the remarks of the others present was compiled by the present
Father Meissner has recently published a book pertinent to our topic
The Assault on Authority: Dialogue or Dilemma > Maryknoll, New York:
Orbis Books, 1971 .
A DISCUSSION ON SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
I. Introduction by John H. Wright, S.J.
In the religious renewal of the Assistancy, the matter of spiritual
direction is of the greatest importance. I wish to propose here (l) a
description of spiritual direction, (2) an outline of its essential method,
and (3) some questions which grow out of this.
1 . Spiritual direction may be described as an inter-personal situa-
tion in which one person assists another to develop and come to greater
maturity in the life of the spirit, that is, the life of faith, hope, and
love. To oversimplify very much for the purpose of schematizing, we may
say that spiritual direction concerns the development of faith by dealing
with the prayer of the person being directed. It is concerned with the
development of hope by considering his difficulties, sufferings, dis-
appointments and problems. And it is concerned to develop the life of
love by treating his life in the Christian community. Actually, of course,
each of these things — prayer, difficulties, and life in community — each
involves faith, hope, and love. But for purposes of discussion, we may
put them under these headings.
It will be helpful, I think, to recall some fairly commonplace ob-
servations to clarify what spiritual direction is not. It is not primarily
informative, though it may sometimes be the opportunity for supplying some
kind of knowledge, especially theological information about the meaning of
the Christian message. Neither is spiritual direction primarily therapeu-
tic, though therapy, of course, may be called for in some cases. Psycho-
logical illness, if it is at all serious, needs someone who is trained
professionally to handle such problems. And thirdly, spiritual direction
is not primarily advisory. It is not the main function of the spiritual
director to indicate to a man what he is to do next. Helpful suggestions
are very much in place from time to time, but they are not the primary
The primary function of spiritual direction is to provide assistance
in two areas, that of clarification and that of discernment. I wish to
develop these ideas in terms of the essential method which I think belongs
to spiritual direction.
2. The fundamental method of spiritual direction is conversation.
Conversation with another enables one to objectify, to conceptualize, and
thus to understand one ! s own living of the life of faith, hope and charity
It is a fairly commonplace experience that if a person wishes to come to
grips with, to appropriate, to make his own, what is going on within him,
he must endeavor to express it, to conceptualize it, to frame it in some
kind of words. Then, as a result of this, the person will be enabled, in
the light of this conversation, to discern the movements and the guidance
of God in his life. He will be able to see the divine initiative of loving
invitation, in which God is seeking from him some kind of response.
Since the aim of this conversation is to enable the person being
directed to objectify and thereafter to discern his own interior life, it
seems clear that he is far more active than the director, for he is the
one who must conceptualize. He is the one who must objectify and then
finally discern. He is going to be assisted by the attention, questions,
and trusting attitude of the spiritual director.
The relationship between the spiritual director and the one being
directed is, in the terminology of Eric Berne and Thomas Harris, not a
parent-child relationship, but an adult-adult relationship. It may at
times, because of differences of development and maturity, participate to
some degree in the parent-child relationship, but fundamentally it is not
this. For there is no question of taking over uncritically the views,
opinions or judgments of another simply because they are being proposed.
It is important that every element of threat be eliminated from this
situation of spiritual direction. The degree to which a judgmental at-
titude on the part of the director is present makes it that much more
difficult for the individual to achieve the kind of insight into himself
that he needs. This would tend to create the parent-child relationship
and not the adult-adult relationship.
a. The objectification of experience, which the one being
direoted is attempting to achieve is never adequate and it is never pre-
sumed to be adequate. No one can really express in words the full in-
sight, the complete range of experience that he has. Nevertheless, we
can scarcely begin to understand truly what takes place within us except
as the fruit of trying to objectify it. The very inadequacy of our for-
mulation helps us to recognize the mystery in which we are involved in the
personal relationship between ourselves and God.
It may be that for some, particularly those who have made some advance
in the spiritual life, this kind of conceptualization can be achieved in
some other way,, for example, by keeping a journal. But in the truly forma-
tive period* of the spiritual life, for most this would certainly be insuf-
ficient. At this time the individual must in a conversation endeavor to
describe to someone else whom he trusts, whose acceptance he has experienced,
the details of his life of grace. This means first of all speaking about
his life of prayer. He should endeavor to do this in some detail, to at-
tend even to such things as the hour of the day at which he prays, how much
time he prays, where he prays, what is the subject matter of his prayer,
what metnod he employs in praying, what insights he received, what affec-
tions come to him spontaneously and how the life of prayer overflows into
his daily life, what effect it has upon his living. Besides describing
his private prayer, he should speak of liturgical participation in the
Eucharist and the sacrament of penance.
Besides the life of prayer, the one being directed should endeavor to
gain some understanding of his suffering, of his experience of human fini-
tude, his anxieties, his day to day depression. Sometimes the need for
professional help may appear here when it becomes evident that the man's
psychological state is something other than a normal period of desolation
or discouragement that anyone may have to go through. In this connection
it would be important to point out that some loneliness is a preparation
for deeper union with God. If a person found no inner emptiness at all,
there would be no sense of invitation to go deeper into the relationship
with God. But thi3 loneliness should never be a crushing or paralyzing
thing. It should not destroy the basic cheerfulness and optimism of life.
And finally, the one being directed should endeavor to objectify and
to narrate how he gets along with others - He should tell whether he is
developing an attitude of kindness and openness, patience, tolerance and
cooperation, or whether there are ve~y strong elements of selfishness,
possessiveness, manipulating others, endeavoring to make his own point of
view and his desires prevail independently of what may promote the common
good. In all of this, the director may assist the one whom he is directing
by asking appropriate questions which will enable him to recognize what is
taking place within himself. Through this objectification then, a man is
enabled to appropriate his own inner life.
b. Spiritual direction is also concerned with discernment.
Concomitantly with the process of objectifying there should be that of
discerning. The purpose of this is not that the individual may determine
the measure of his spiritual development, but rather that he may discover
how he ought to respond to God. By discerning what are the movements of
the Holy Spirit within him, what are the attractions of the grace of God,
he is enabled to see how God is guiding him and where, therefore, he must
follow. Discernment, likewise, is chiefly the work of the one being direc*
The spiritual director does not form his own judgments in this matter and
then inform the one being directed, but rather he helps the man to discern.
Sometimes this may be very obvious. The very objectification may make it
clear which are the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and which are delusions
and deceptions. At times, however, it may be problematic and obscure. Ar.d
then, I think, the spiritual director can be positively helpful, provided
he himself is led by the Spirit. To render this kind of assistance, it is
not enough to have bookish knowledge about spiritual things, the movements
of the Spirit, and' the rules of spiritual discernment. The director him-
self must have a real sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and to the guidance
of the Spirit in his own life. This will mean that he will have some ac-
quaintance with the normal pattern of the development of the spiritual
life, especially the life of prayer. If he lacks this, he will not be
able to appreciate what is being described to him by the one whom he is
directing. He must know what to look for in terms of the fruits of the
Spirit and works of the flesh as they are described by St. Paul in Gal. 5:
19-23* But apart from certain extraordinary cases of scruples or similar
disturbances, the spiritual director cannot simply demand obedience to his
discernment but must lead the individual to discern himself. He can do
this by questions, by instructions on the principles of discernment, by
suggestions, but in the end the man himself will have to identify within
him what really is the invitation of the Holy Spirit to which he is called
upon to respond.
One consequence of having a relationship like this with a spiritual
director is the possibility of great flexibility in living the life of the
Spirit. It makes it possible to organize one ! s life in a very flexible
way and still remain honest, still remain free of self deception and delu-
sion, able to avoid such facile slogans as, "My life of prayer is just
what I do for other people." If a person is willing to objectify in some
detail his internal life of faith, hope and charity and to make an honest
effort at discernment as he speaks about this with someone else, he will
not easily be deceived in matters such as the time to be given to prayer,
or the frequency of participation in the sacrifice of the Mass. These
things will not be matters of inflexible rule but they will be matters in
which honest, genuine discernment of the motions of the Holy Spirit takes
3. I wish, then, against the background of these remarks to propose
questions for discussion.
First, does a person ever completely outgrow the need or the use-
fulness of living in this kind of situation; that is, of having a spiritual
director? It is clear that during the period of a man's formation spiritual
direction is indispensable; but when the period of formation is over, when
a man has his last vows and is living in a regular community, is spiritual
direction now completely superfluous? Or is it still genuinely helpful and
profitable, so that it should be recommended to everyone in the Assistancy
that he have someone to whom he goes at times and describes as best he can
the development of his life of grace, his faith, hope, and love?
Second, if spiritual direction is primarily assisting someone to
objectify and to discern in the life of grace, can this be done also in
groups? Is it possible for a group of people who trust one another to
discuss together what is their life of prayer, what are their particular
problems, what is their life in community. There is no question of going
into confessional matters, but of discussing the life of the spirit and
the growth of faith, hope and charity. Is it possible that mutual com-
munication at this level could be a matter of great assistance in the life
II. A Summary of the Discussion
The discussion which followed these remarks ranged over a wide field.
The following summary, without producing an artificial unity or giving
the names of those who proffered opinions, attempts to bring observations
on the same topic into relationship with one another and to highlight the
main points or opinions expressed.
1 . Is it not necessary at times for the spiritual director to take
the initiative, to endeavor to make a breakthrough, to overcome routine
when nothing seems to be going on?
In this case the director should ask questions to find out why nothing
is going on. St. Ignatius thought in a retreat, if there are no experiences
of consolation and desolation, the director should find out what the man is
doing, how he is performing the exercises. Something of the same thing is
true here; for frequently it means that the man has not really got any in-
sight into what is happening, into what he is doing. However, we should
observe that there are periods in which growth is so gradual that it is
not possible to observe progress. The man is able to live in community in
an open, loving, supportive fashion and to do his work. This is evidence
of a very fruitful life of prayer. The director should not feel, in these
situations, that he is doing nothing, for, in some sense, this is to miss
the point. In spiritual direction, it is the man who is being directed
who is most active, and the sincerity and honesty in which he objectifies
his own situation to another gives him an insight into himself which he
could not have alone.
At times, of course, it may become clear that some kind of break-
through is indeed necessary. But it is not possible for the director
simply to say this. He must endeavor to lead the other by questioning,
suggestion and encouragement.
2. It was said that the relationship between the spiritual director
and the one he is directing should be an adult-adult relationship; but
should not the spiritual director have some kind of ascendancy?
The case here seems to be very similar to the educational situation.
Some kind of ascendancy on the part of the teacher is helpful. But finally,
the one being educated is not just supposed to take over the judgments
and observations of the teacher, but to make his own judgments and to
achieve his own development. In the parent-child relationship, the child
simply takes over someone else ! s valuation, judgments and principles, and
he acts upon them without ever having really reflected upon them, without
making them his own by a personal appropriation. You must indeed have
respect for your spiritual director and a recognition of the fact that he
accepts you, that he is worthy of your trust, and that he has wisdom and
3. This relates, I think, to the question raised a moment ago (above
in ), on page 45) , whether every Jesuit would profit by having a spiritual
director. If this is the case, then evidently it is not necessary always
to find someone who is farther along than you are. It is necessary to find
someone whom you recognize as a spiritual man, a man of prayer, a man whom
you respect. If he is older and farther advanced, this may be an advantage,
but it is not necessary. Whoever does help me to objectify my situation
and to discern, is indeed a spiritual director as we have described him.
Is not the relationship you have described very often that which ob-
tains between the confessor and the penitent? Here there is not just a
question of confessing moral failures, but of taking a measure of the whole
life of prayer. Most Jesuits probably do have a regular confessor, but it
is hard to say how much of this goes on. It is likely that normally there
is an accounting of small failures and a renewal of sorrow, but not any
extensive or detailed discussion of the 3 if e of prayer; though it may be
that this is beginning to happen more frequently in the confession situation,
Perhaps the relationship between Christ and the Apostles, as described
in the Gospel, can be some kind of help, or image, for the kind of relation-
ship there should be between the spiritual director and those whom he di-
rects. This was very much an interpersonal relationship. They were really
friends. From the outlines in the Gospel we have the impression that there
was real give and take of intimacy and trust and friendship, and yet, this
man was God. He was their master and Lord. John could put his head on His
breast at the Last Supper. It is not, perhaps, too much to ask that the
spiritual director become in a sense a sacrament for the individual whom
he directs, that he manifest through his compassion, his listening, the
presence of God. The spiritual director does not merely listen, but he
has the desire to bring this man to the Father. At times too he will ex-
press himself very directly and function as a guide, though the individual
himself should do the discerning as much as possible. It is necessary for
the director to develop a kind of sixth sense so he will know when it is
required for him to step in and say what is to be said.
It seems, in the light of all that we have been saying, that any
Christian who takes his Christian life seriously, should have some kind of
'spiritual director. And yet, in the providence of God, something like this
is very rarely available, even to the seriously committed Christian. I
wonder how unavailable it is. If people are leading the life of the Spirit,
and are serious about it, can they not talk to one another about what is
going on and receive some sort of enlightenment and help and strength fix
one another? The very effort to conceptualize will give them insights that
they would not have otherwise. A husband and wife, who are endeavoring to
live a serious Christian life, could speak to each other about their life
of prayer, and even have a life of prayer in common to * ^^^y great extent.
This would be, in some sense, a matter of spiritual direction.
But to speak simply to a companion, a peer, may be to speak to another
who has the same kind of blind spots that you have. This makes one proviso
necessary. When there is question of a peer group, it is necessary that
they have reached some real maturity. Novices could not well act as spirit-
ual guides for one another, nor juniors, nor scholastics generally, because
often much necessary insight would be lacking.
4. It seems possible, as time goes on, that we begin to think of our-
selves as having so much competence and experience that we feel unable to
go to someone else and ask his help and advice. It is questionable then
whether this is the unavailability of spiritual directors or simply a matter
of human pride. We recognize that in seeking a spiritual director we need
to find someone who will not merely sit there and listen, but who will, by
his personality and presence, tend to draw more out of us. He must be some-
one whom you can trust; someone whom you recognize accepts you. But is it
not possible that this relationship be built up gradually? If you are con-
cerned to have a particular person as your spiritual director, since you
recognize that he is prayerful and competent, you could, over a period of
time, build up a relationship with him. Thus, it would not be a desperate
situation, but the ordinary needs of life that would bring you to a spirit-
ual director, the ordinary needs that you have for understanding yourself,
your interior, and of discerning the presence and the activity of God.
5. Some of this points to a common weakness of Jesuits, a kind of
individualism that makes it difficult for many to pray in groups or to
share their spiritual insights with one another. Praying in a group could
be a remedy for this individualism and enable Jesuits to profit by spiritual
direction. It seems, in some ways, that we are moving into an era that has
much to do with groups and that much of our spiritual direction may well
be accomplished in the future in groups. It will never completely take
the place of the one to one relationship in a situation of spiritual
direction, but one of the tasks facing us is to create an atmosphere in
community where one can express himself, not just to one individual but
to the group, very personally and intimately and be accepted by that group.
This tendency is very noteworthy in the younger men. They are reacting
against a depersonalized hotel existence. At the same time there is
occasionally some distrust beneath the comraderie which is often in evidence.
It might be said in summary that while a person is learning, a one to one
situation is desirable, but a final fruit of this should be the possibility
of fraternal direction in common.
6. It has been suggested that the manifestation of conscience, in a
broader sense, could handle much of the matter of spiritual direction.
There is a problem here, however, that as soon as the spiritual director
becomes a man who has authority, you have introduced into the situation,
whether you want to or not, an element of threat. The superior always has
to be concerned with the common good of the whole, and the question neces-
sarily continues to enter in concerning this man ! s qualifications. It be-
comes a problem for a man to be as frank and open and honest as he would
be in a situation where there is no threat. At times, the younger men
seem to be quite open and not to be bothered by this element of authority
in the one with whom they are speaking. Nevertheless, at other times this
does seem to be a major consideration, even in the novitiate. No universal
solution from this point of view seems possible therefore.
7. In answer to the question of whether everyone should have a spir-
itual director, it is at least useful that each should have someone who
knows him well, so that when something does come up he can go to one who
will have the context, at least to some extent, of the particular problem
or difficulty about which he wishes to consult. Further, many older men
as well as recently ordained priests need spiritual direction.
8. Some qualities of a spiritual director seem to be these. He
should have sympathetic understanding so that the person who consults him
will feel that he is being accepted without being judged. He should also
have a wisdom so that he not only understands the particular problem or
situation but is able to relate it to a broader development. He should
also have a genuine spirituality; that is, a real sensitivity to the spirit.
He should not be precipitous, but prudent and prayerful. These seem to be
the qualities which are most important in a spiritual director. They will
give him an uncomplicated basic attitude which comes from being led by
the Spirit. And they will develop a high regard for the integrity of
another and a respect for his distinct characteristics.
9. If we ask whether every Jesuit is a potential spiritual director,
or whether there is a special charism that only some possess, we meet a
real problem. Someone observed that out of eighty Jesuits in a particular
community, he discovered only three whom he felt he could relate to as a
spiritual director. But this may well be a matter of personalities rather
than of competence of all these seventy-seven others.
10.. One could ask further: How important is the priesthood for being
a spiritual director? Is friendship between the director and the one being
directed an asset or a debit?
In some scholasticates, it has been found very helpful to associate
members of the faculty directly in the matter of spiritual direction of
scholastics. This tends to emphasize the importance of spiritual direction.
If the spiritual directors themselves get together once or twice a month
to talk about spiritual matters and to pray together, this also underlines
the importance that is attached to this matter. It tends to develop within
the community a spiritual atmosphere in which one is able to speak even in
a large group about matters which are very personal and spiritual.
Some aspects of being a spiritual director can be taught, and even
non-priests can exercise this function. Very ancient tradition has unor-
dained monks and also nuns acting as spiritual directors. It is important
that our priests regard spiritual direction as important. They are men of
the Church and it would T?e unfortunate if only a few Jesuits were spiritual
men, or if the community as a whole could manifest a concern only for the
superficial, for who won an athletic contest, for example. When the source
of difficulty in a matter of spiritual direction and the living of the
spiritual life lies in a poor community, it seems that there is very
little that can be done.
A DISCUSSION ON LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY
Introduction by John R. Sheets, S.J.
In its meeting of April 17 and 18, 1971 » the Assistancy Seminar on
Jesuit Spirituality held a discussion on leadership and authority. In
addition to the regular members of the Seminar Father William W. Meissner
was present to give his own contribution. His remarks touched on some of
the points covered in his recent book, The Assault on Authority: Dialogue
pr Dilemma ? (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 1971 )• Several of the mem-
bers took a particular aspect of leadership and authority to present as
their own input. Father Burke approached the topic with special reference
to various authors who have treated it. Father Clarke viewed it from the
Ignatian souroes. Father Wright presented in capsule form ideas from a
symposium on the subject of leadership and authority held at Alma in 1964.
I was asked to start the discussion by presenting a position paper.
That fact accounts for disproportionate lengths in the following reports.
My own paper was expected to attempt to develop the topic at some length.
For this reason it takes the lion's share of the space in the presentation
that follows. In this written presentation it is not possible to recreate
the informal atmosphere and the tone of dialogue and discussion which char-
acterized our meeting.
I. Leadership and Authority: Distinct but Complementary poles
We can begin by asking some questions concerning leadership and au-
thority. Hopefully the subsequent presentations by the other members of
the group will throw some light on the answers to these questions. First
of all, is there a distinction between authority and leadership? If so,
how could such a distinction be described? How are leadership and au-
thority related to each other? Is it possible for leadership and author-
ity (if they are distinct) to be at odds? How can leadership and authority
be brought together in order to achieve the best possible results? What
is the basis for leadership and for authority? "What are the main problems
involved in leadership and authority? To what extent do leadership and
authority take their shape from the particular period of history where
they are found?
These are some of the questions that come to mind concerning author-
ity and leadership. We hope that asking all of these questions will not
give the impression that we shall come up with answers to all of them.
We would like, however, to probe into these questions and at least at-
tempt to come up with some conclusions. Hopefully, my conclusions and
also the processes by which I arrived at them will be tested, supplemented,
and if necessary corrected by the various points of view from the other
A. The Relationship between Leadership and Authority
We can anticipate our conclusion by putting it at the very beginning
of the inquiry. Leadership and authority are not the same. They are, how-
ever, closely related. Both can be defined as personal powers effecting
converging unity . The origin and nature of these respective powers are
not the same, and the way they effect unity is not the same. However,
both modalities (that of leadership and that of authority) are necessary
if the unity to be attained is to engage the whole person and open him to
the totality of the union to be achieved, and not merely to an aspect of it.
Anticipating much of what will be said later, we can say that not every
leader is an authority. However, it is possible (and desirable) that an
authority have the characteristics of a leader as well as be an authority.
These are ideas which we would like to try to clarify.
1 . Leadership
First of all we can consider some general characteristics of leader-
ship, then speak of some specific types, then move on to consider authority.
Like many elementary experiences leadership is a phenomenon which is
obvious until we try to describe it. History is filled with people who are
considered leaders. However, when we look at the wide variety of persons
covered by this term "leader," we begin to wonder if they have anything
at all in common. There are military leaders, social and political leaders,
religious leaders, intellectual leaders, not to speak of boy scout leaders,
orchestra leaders, business leaders, and the like. All of these have some-
thing in common, but at the same time they are so different. This leads
us to the realization that leadership is an analogous notion.
If leadership is an analogous notion, then there is a common denom-
inator underlying all the varieties of leadership we mentioned. This com-
mon denominator would seem to be a power to draw others beyond the point
where they presently find themselves to a point of greater realization
of their common aspirations. It is a power to draw others toward a center
of closer unity, a unity which is always converging.
By its very nature leadership implies a certain standing out from the
group which is led, as well as a standing ahead. This implies both a dis-
tance from the group, as well as an identification with the group. The
idea of distance implies that the leader already has a high degree of
realization of the goal to be attained. At the same time he is identified
with the aspirations of the group.
The leader is an effective symbol incarnating the aspirations of the
group. He renders present the goal in a hopeful way. In him others see
their own hopes as realizable. The leader is a provocative and evocative
symbol of what the group wants to be or to attain, while he stands with-
in the group, he has at the same time a certain transcendence, being a-
head of the group, as one who has alreay realized the goal to a large
extent, and who now acts as a focal point drawing others to the real-
ization of the same goal. The leader stands with his face toward the
group, as drawing them. But at the same time he is the corporate face
of the group toward the goal, and he serves as the representative of the
group to others. He is the symbol of the realizability and tangibleness
of the goal. In brief, the leader is a symbolic, effective presence,
whose power to lead comes from the fact that he can draw into a focus
the common aspirations of a group, at a point beyond where they find
themselves, because of the fact that the goal of their aspirations is
already realized in himself to a large degree. Thus he renders that goal
present to the group in a tangible and attractive way.
2. The Components of Leadership : Ethos, Pneuma, Logos
Leadership has three basic components: ethos . pneuma . and logos .
Authority, on the other hand, belongs to the realm of nomos (law). We
shall speak of authority later. At present we would like to investigate
the components of leadership that will be found in various proportions
wherever genuine leadership is present. All of these elements are always
found together. They are distinguishable but not separable. However,
there are different types of leadership depending on which one of the
characteristics is most prominent.
Ethos is that aspect of leadership which has to do with values . In
a very particular sense it has to do with those values which concern moral
choices . Where ethos is the dominant note, the group, goal, leader, and
means, are all linked together in a vital network of common values. The
leader himself is in someway the embodiment of these values. By his
imaginative and creative living of these values he draws others to their
attainment. His own convictions are magnetic. They are not like money
kept in a vault which one can withdraw when he needs the cash. Hi3 ap-
propriation of the values acts as a powerful drawing force, bringing the
aspirations of the group to a convergent unity. This aspect of leader-
ship is seen in those who are religious leaders, such as Ignatius, Francis
of Assisi, to name but a couple of examples. Similarly this aspect of
leadership is found in those who are great social leaders like Gandhi and
Martin Luther King. The strength of this leadership depends on two things:
the leader's personal appropriation of the values, measured by the degree
he will sacrifice himself for them, and the extent to which he can set
others afire with these same moral values.
Pneuma . in the second place, is that aspect of leadership which has
to do with the power transmitted by the leader, and the power that is
aroused in the group. It has the characteristics of inspiration, en-
thusiasm, energy, movement, and momentum. In itself it is like the wind,
which can either bring a soft and gentle rain, or can whip up a destructive
storm. This aspect of leadership seems to be in a particular way the realm
of the demonic . The importance of discernment of spirits is found with
particular urgency here. There is a hypnotic effect in pneuma that can
blind a person to ethos (values) and logos (judgment). It is like a sail-
ing vessel where the tremendous power of the wind takes over, and the
navigator and helmsman are helpless in the presence of such power.
Ethos and logos act as channeling structures for pneuma . The leader-
ship which can inspire followers with enthusiasm is like the power to open
the sluices of a dam. Unless the forces that are released are controlled,
there is a devastating flood.
On the other hand, leadership of ethos and logos would be stagnant
without the characteristic of pneuma . Leadership must transmit inspi-
ration. It must release the powers of the spirit within the group. In
the case of pneuma that which links leader, those led, the goal, and the
means is the same dvnamis . the same power. It is from communication of
this power to the group that leadership constantly overcomes the inertia
of the group. Leadership taps the hidden resources of spirit in the group,
brings them into active engagement. It acts like a torch to set others
afire. Such leadership galvanizes people who are moderately interested
into a band of crusaders.
We have commented on the ambiguity of this particular characteristic
of leadership. Under the influence of powerful inspiration the temptation
rises to begin a holy war on others. This is always a sign of the demonic.
Where the holy war is declared first of all on oneself, and a holy peace
declared on others, we have a sign of the Holy Pneuma . There is a dif-
ference between a mob with a cause, and a holy people with a mission.
One is a destructive power. The other shows the strength of its power
very often by using means which seem to be powerless in order to accom-
plish its goals.
In the third place, logos is that characteristic of leadership re-
lated to judgment. This aspect of leadership can be described in various
ways: reason, rule, guidance, orientation, balance, discretion, prudence,
savoir-faire, intelligence, knowledge. This has to be a characteristic
wherever genuine leadership is found. But in certain cases leadership is
based mainly on the characteristic of knowledge. It is the person's pre-
eminent knowledge or prudence which constitutes his leadership. Sometimes
we see the intellectual leadership in one person, and the leadership of
inspiration largely in another. An obvious case is that of Marx and Engels.
Marx was the theoretician, and Engels the propagandist of Marxism.
Under the characteristic of logos we find many types of leadership,
ranging from the theoretician to the tactician. In every case, however,
the power of the leader is seen in the power of his judgment to give a
constant and consistent shape to the aspirations of the group. When this
particular quality disappears, leadership is gone. If the group still re-
tains its pneuma , it will become a destructive force when the leadership
of reason goes, unless it is replaced by another leader who has the power
to mold the enthusiasm of the group and teach them the measured steps they
have to take to get to the goal.
Genuine leadership, as we have said, comprises all three of these
characteristic of ethos , pneuma . logos . However, they are found in varying
degrees, very often with one of the characteristics assuming a particular
prominence to the point where one might be designated according to one of
these, as a moral or ethical leader, a charismatic leader, an intellectual
Authority is a particular mode of leadership that can impose nomos .
law, obligation. Our supposition is that there are two distinct species
of leadership coming under the one genus. There is first of all the
leadership we have spoken of above, with the characteristics of ethos .
pneuma . and logos : then there is the leadership of nomos . We can describe
the difference between the two when we realize the different ways in which
they effect the convergent unity. The leadership we have spoken of above
works by drawing others to an effective realization of the goals. It
transmits attraction . The leadership of authority has as its specific
characteristic the transmission of the imperative. It does not merely
exhort or persuade, but it commands .
The distinctive characteristics of these two modes of leadership seems
to be rooted in the very structure of personhood as a created exemplatum
of the divine exemplar. It is a favorite theme of both Augustine and
Aquinas that God does not only give man a share in his existence. He
also shares his power to communicate existence. Among the various ways
of communicating existence, there is the particular mode of communicating
existence by being a focal point of unity . This is not the same, of course,
as communicating existence in the sense of having a child, for example. In
another sense, however, it is the communication of an existence-in-union .
To draw others into a new mode of union or communion is a way of commu-
God's own orientation toward creatures is shown in the twofold way
that he draws all things to himself, first of all through the attraction
of his goodness. But while he draws all things by attraction, including
persons, he draws persons in another way also. He draws them by compelling ,
them. Of course, when we speak of God compelling, we do not mean to deny
human freedom. It is God's power to command human freedom, which, while
leaving man free, imposes an obligation to do God's will.
The whole world is brought to a convergent unity through God's at-
traction and through his commanding. Both of these are ways in which the
knot of unity is being tightened through time and space.
God has shared these power to communicate existence-in-closer-unity
with man. Leadership is the sharing in God's goodness to attract. Au-
thority is the sharing in his power to command. Each of them are modes
effecting unity from different points of view. Each of them is necessary.
The whole world is moved both by the desirability of God's goodness and
at the same time by the seriousness of that goodness, which is another
way of saying that the whole world lies under the compelling influence
of God. He has graciously shared both types of influence with man.
There are those, of course, who would disagree with our analysis of
authority and leadership which we see as based on an ontology. Depend-
ing upon their own particular point of view, it is possible for some to
view these ideas only from the perspective of sociology or psychology.
Some would see authority merely as a pragmatic answer to getting things
done with a minimum of waste. However, we would see authority and leader-
ship as flowing from man's created sharing in God's own power to commu-
There is no doubt that leadership and authority take on different
tonalities depending on the particular point of history where they are
found. However, it seems that they are realities which are rooted in the
very nature of created existence, if one is willing to admit that created
existence mirrors forth the uncreated existence of God, whose providence
is drawing all things to a goal. Men are not only provided for by God,
but they are sharers in his power to provide. One of the main ways in
which they provide is through the leadership of attraction and the leader-
ship of authority. Both are modes of providing for greater and greater
union, in one way through attraction, in another through command. It is
in this way that God's own providence is effective, both attracting and
commanding. In a sense man is God's vicegerent on earth. He not only
provides for other men, but he provides for God, by drawing men closer
to the unity which is willed by God's providence.
4. Leadership and Authority "in the Lord ."
In this real order God's providence is exercised in history through
Jesus Christ. He is the one who has completely provided God for man, and
man for God. It is through him that the divine plan is realized. He is
the one who is the embodiment of God's attractive, redemptive goodness,
on the one hand, and on the other, he is the one who transmits the divine
imperative. He is supreme leader in every sense. The idea of Christ's
leadership is thematic in the letter to the Hebrews. "Let us not lose
sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection"
(Heb. 12:2). Christ is the one who goes before us, drawing us to him-
self into the sanctuary where he continually intercedes for us. Forming
one community with believers of all ages, we find in Jesus our common
attraction, and our common Lord.
Because of the incarnation and redemption there is no such thing as
an attraction and a command to a unity which is merely formal. All leader-
ship and authority are "in the Lord." The unity to which they lead are
"in the Lord." There is no such thing as a purely secular authority or
leadership, or a purely secular center of unity. All authentic leader-
ship, as well as all authentic unity brought about by leadership, is in
some way "in the Lord," since the whole of the universe is "in the Lord."
"In him were created all things in heaven and on earth . . . all things
were created through him and for him. Before anything was created, he
existed, and he holds all things in unity. . . . God wanted all per-
fection to be found in him and all things to be reconciled through him
and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made
peace by his death on the cross" (Col. 1:1 5) •
There are, of course, degrees of this authentically Christie leader-
ship and unity. They range from the remote, anonymously Christie form,
through the natural forms of leadership which are taken up "in the Lord,"
up to the form of leadership and authority which is in the Church, which
is not only "in the Lord," but "from the Lord."
Because of the incarnation and redemption, and the sending of the
Spirit, every mode of leadership has a new dimension, even though it is
not explicitly recognized. Paul frequently brings out this new dimension
in his letters where he speaks of obedience "in the Lord." "Be considerate
to those who are working amongst you and are above you in the Lord as your
teachers" (1 Thess. 5:12) . "Wives, give way to your husbands, as you
should in the Lord . . . . Children, be obedient to your parents always,
because that is what will please the Lord . . . . Slaves, be obedient to
the men who are called your master in this world . . . out of resoect for
the Master . "Whatever your work is, put your heart into it as it were for
the Lord and not for men, knowing that the Lord will repay you by making
you his heirs. It is Christ the Lord you are serving " (Col. 3:18); see
also Eph. 5:21 ; 6:1 ).
The total force of God ! s goodness is rendered attractive in the flesh
of Christ, as that flesh submitted to the Father's will, even to the death
of the cross, and was raised to the right hand of the Father. "And when
I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself" (John 12:^2).
The world moves forward to its ultimate end through the powerful attraction
of Christ. All genuine leadership is moving the world at least in a remote
way to the climax of that attractive presence.
God's own imperative for the world is embodied in Christ to be trans-
mitted to the world. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given
to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations. . . . And know
that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time (Matt. 28:18). God's
imperative is not a blind force commanding some type of an ethical action.
The seriousness and the concern of his love turns an exhortative into an
imperative. His own ultimate concern is that men be fulfilled in his Son.
His command to do is only a function of his will that we be, that we take
on the image of the Son.
All genuine authority in some way is transmitting this imperative to
take on the image of the Son, just as all genuine leadership is drawing
us to that image. But it is in the Church that we see and experience in
a direct and explicit way both the leadership of attraction and the leader-
ship of authority of Christ.
All other forms of leadership are in a sense "natural" forms that are
taken up into Christ's own leadership. They come as it were "from below,"
and are taken up into what comes "from above." But leadership and au-
thority in the Church are totally from above. Not that they enter into
time and history as some foreign element. But they are the extension of
the mystery of the incarnation and redemption. The Church sacramentalizes
Christ's authority and his leadership, as it sacramentalizes every aspect
of Christ. The Eucharist is a helpful comparison. The reality of the
Eucharist, Christ, is totally from above, though the elements which are
changed into his body and blood come from the work of human hands. In a
similar way, Christ's own authority and leadership are sacramentalized in
the Church. Within the Church there are different levels on which this
takes place. The sacramentalization of his authority is found in a spe-
cial way in those who succeed in the role of Peter and the apostles, who
are effective symbols of Christie unity, having the authority to transmit
the imperative of Christ's leadership.
The leadership of attraction is also sacramentalized in the Church.
This is not limited to those who have the leadership of authority. It is
found wherever the attractiveness of Christ is rendered present and visible
in a person.
The leadership of attraction where it is specifically Christie comes
about because there is a new ethos , a new pneuma . and a new logos . The
leadership of authority directs its imperative according to a new nomos .
which is that of the unity of all men in Christ. Let us comment briefly
on the new ethos , pneuma . and logos , and then briefly on the new nomos
which is transmitted by ecclesial authority.
First of all there is a new ethos . The values of Christ subsume the
ethos of mere morality, and draw morality within the larger context of
holiness. It is no longer simply a question of the pursuit of values
which are good, and avoidance of what is evil. Rather the ultimate value
is seen to be in the holiness that comes from being -with, from communion
with the Son. What took place in St. Paul in a dramatic way takes place
in every Christian in a genuine but perhaps undramatic fashion. He de-
scribed how all of his old values were transformed through his union with
Christ, what he used to value he considers now only as refuse (Phil. ~}:7) •
Similarly there is a new pneuma . The Holy Spirit is the power who is
given to us to create communion. He is not a blind force, but he has the
eyes and the heart of the Son, and by his very nature leads all things to
their Christie unity. Leadership in the Lord draws on the new energies of
the Spirit given to us in such abundance between the first and second
coming of Christ. A new type of fire burns in the heart of the Christian
leader, the fire of the Holy Spirit. Such a leader attempts to transmit
this gentle violence to others, to ignite them with this same fire.
Again leadership in the Lord has a new logos . "In your minds you
must be the same as Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). "We are those who have
the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). The one who has the mind of Christ
draws all things into a unity that comes from a faith- insight. Such a
leader has a "feel" for the things of Christ, and for the paths that lead
to greater union in Christ.
There is therefore a special Christie modality to all leadership and
authority, but this is conscious and overt and in a special way sacramen-
talized in Christian leadership and authority. This does not come from
absorbing certain cultural attitudes, but from being drawn into the orbit
of Christ 1 s own power to attract and command. Christian leadership and
authority participates in the drawing and centering power of Christ him-
Christian authority is under a new nomas, and transmits the imperative
of that nomos . This is not only the "law of love" in the sense of attraction,
It is the law of love insofar as it imposes the obligation that governs the
mode in which what is vaguely called the "law of love" operates effectively.
Law without love is sterile structure. Love without law is willful and
In any case, both leadership "in the Lord" and authority "in the Lord"
have the same purpose, to bring men to that converging unity which we call
the Kingdom of Christ. They are different modalities of the power to ef-
fect that Christie unity. They support each other. We are under the
attraction of Christ through those who mediate this attraction, while at
the same time we are under the imperative of Christ, through those who
mediate this imperative.
As was said above, we all feel more at home with attraction than we
do with compulsion. Leadership resonates with our self-will, while au-
thority suggests the giving up of my self-will. Perhaps these two as-
pects of leading will never be perfectly at home in our fallen human
nature. If we were perfectly at home in the Son, as he himself was per-
fectly at home in the Father, then there would not be that unnatural ten-
sion in our hearts between freedom and authority.
The ultimate answer to the problem of freedom as responding to an
appeal, and freedom as responding to obligation, lies in the relation-
ship of the self to the one who is appealing and the one who is com-
manding. If we looked at this process as taking place in one and the
same person, there would be no contradiction between what he does because
he responds to a certain attraction, and what he does because he imposes
an obligation on himself. The tension is resolved because one and the
same person is both the one who responds, as well as the one who imposes
obligation on himself. If for example a person were attracted to marriage,
and also imposed on himself the obligation to get married, there would not
be the tension we ordinarily experience between attraction and obligation.
If we understand our relationship to Christ and to the Father properly,
then we see that there is ultimately no objective basis for this tension,
because the command and the response are coming from the same person.
Christ commanding is ourselves responding. The law of Christ is not some-
thing alien to us, or imposed from without. It is the law of our being,
rendered visible and audible, in a special way in the Church, which mediates
the law of Christ. In our Head, we command ourselves. As members, we obey
the law of our being, expressed through our Head, Christ.
This is not some trickery with language. If our true image is that
of the Son, then it is not an imposition to have our true image imposed
on us. "And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the bright-
ness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the
image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit" (2 Cor.
3:18). A law which imposes on us the exigencies inherent in our humanity,
is not an imposition on our genuine humanity, though it may irritate in
us what resists such congenial imposition. Similarly, and much more
radically, the law which imposes on us the demands of sonship coming from
our relationship with Christ is not a genuine imposition, but an exposition
of what we are, put in the imperative to become what we are. Augustine as
usual puts it quite succinctly: "When you found him displeasing, it was
your corruption which he displeased" ( Sermon 58).
This is the ultimate answer to the problem of freedom and authority.
These are not intrinsically antagonistic aspects of human existence, even
though in practice they are often at odds. Genuine authority "in the Lord"
is only the external ordering of the intrinsic ordering of all things in
Christ and for Christ. The source of our freedom is also the source of
authority, one and the same person who compels us sweetly from within and
who compels us stringently from without.
Yet in our lives in practice there will always be an uneasy truce be-
tween these two aspects of our being drawn to Christ. We all suffer more
or less from a schizoid mentality, where we feel an antagonism between free-
dom and law. All of us suffer to some extent the same feeling experienced
by Jeremias. He "did and he didn't" want to preach the word of God. He
felt an ambivalence in carrying out the mission he was given. "I used to
say, 'I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more. 1
Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.
The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not bear it" (Jer. 20:9)-
All of us feel to some extent the "threat" of authority to our own freedom,
just as Jeremias felt his whole being threatened by the mission given to
him by God.
Before moving on to the next section, it might be helpful to sum up
what we have said so far. We spoke of leadership and authority as being
defined by two main ideas: first of all, they are powers, secondly, they
are powers to effect convergent unity. As powers, they have different
modes of effecting the same unity. Leadership emphasizes power to effect
unity through the appeal of attraction. Authority is a power to effect
unity by declaring the imperative. We spoke, then, of the three com-
ponents of leadership, ethos . oneuma . and logos . The leadership of au-
thority, on the other hand, has to do with nomos . Though these words are
translatable into English by words which are more or less their equivalent,
we prefer to keep the Greek words because they seem to be richer than our
English words. They are what could be called primordial words, with many
We saw that both modes of leadership are rooted ultimately in a
sharing in God's own power to provide for others. He provides, both
through the attraction of his goodness (in this sense "leading" the world),
and through the imperative of his will written on our hearts, expressed in
law mediated by legitimate authority.
We saw how all aspects of leadership take on a different dimension
after the incarnation. Leadership and authority are "baptized." They
are "in the Lord." This is true in a remote sense of leadership wherever
it is found authentically. But in a special way it is true where leader-
ship is the extension of Christ's own drawing as well as the power to
apply his own imperative to each moment of history, as we find with au-
thority in the Church.
Finally we saw that the ultimate resolution (though this remains
largely theoretical for us in this life) between freedom and authority
comes from the fact that the one who commands is commanding himself, be-
cause it is Christ who commands, and it is Christ who obeys. It is our
genuine Self who obliges us, since Christ is our genuine Self, and his
genuine Self in us, through his Spirit, who responds.
In the light of these remarks it is easy to see how Ignatius ex-
pressed an authentic vision of leadership and authority. He spoke so
often of seeing the superior as Christ. He even spoke of obeying the
cook in the kitchen as Christ our Lord. He had the mystic's sense of the
dimension added to, and embracing all natural leadership and authority,
through the incarnation. Now such leadership and authority are "in the
Lord." This means that it is Christ drawing and Christ commanding through
human leaders and human authorities. He never saw this as meaning that
superiors had a "hot line" to Christ. But he did see them as the symbol
of Christ's own drawing and commanding power, effectively present. Ec-
clesial authority is in a special way from Christ, for Christ, and Jjq
Christ. It is a share in his own modality of drawing men to the Father.
Authority in religious life has an "ecclesial" shape. It is in a special
way related to authority in the Church.
B. Some Differences between Leadership and Authority
We would like to point out some differences in the way that leader-
ship and authority achieve this convergent unity. In some respects this
is saying in different words what we have already spoken of above. At
the same time it will help us see more clearly their distincitve but com-
In the first place, leadership depends to a large extent on natural
endowment . It is the expression of the "attractive" side of a person's
gifts — his intelligence, vivacity, goodness — and the extent to which these
gifts serve as a focal point for drawing others. Authority, on the other
hand, is not based on personal endowment. It derives its power to unite
not from the outstanding nature of the gifts one has, but from the fact
that a person is "invested" with a power along a different line from that
of personal attributes.
This "investiture" with authority takes place in different ways de-
pending on the nature of the authority. Parental authority comes about
from having a child. Jurisdictional authority comes from having an of-
fice. Ecclesial authority comes from the ordination called "holy or-
dination," that is, the sacrament of orders, where a person is drawn into
Christ's own ordination to the Father and the Church. In whatever manner
this "investiture" takes place, it is not the same as that which is based
on natural endowment.
This is seen in the fact that the power of a leader is directly
proportioned to the attracting force of those characteristics on which
his leadership is based. This power increases or diminishes along with
the force of that attraction. The power of authority, on the other hand,
is not in itself increased or diminished by the attractiveness of the one
in authority. The source of authority remains as a certain constant within
the variability of a person's qualities of leadership. For this reason,
St. Ignatius warned his followers not to confuse the "personal authority,"
that is a person's qualities as leader, with the authority that comes
from "investiture." "They should not merely consider the person of the
one they obey, but see in him Christ our Lord, for whose sake they obey"
(Letter on Obedience, no. 3).
A second difference between leadership and authority, related to the
first, comes from the fact that leadership has a certain life span . It
emerges, reaches fruition, declines, and dies. It partakes of the tran-
sientness of any living symbol which is based upon the force of attraction
of gifts that share in the ebb and flow of all transient things. Today's
leader can be tomorrow's spectator. Leadership demands a constant freshen-
ing of the gifts which form the basis of his leadership. Otherwise
leadership loses its appeal and dies.
Authority, on the other hand, has a certain agelessness like Melchizedek,
His "personal authority" might increase or decrease, but his power to trans-
mit the imperative remains as a constant, provided of course that his own
powers to judge remain unimpaired. This comes from the fact that a person
is taken into a kind of order which is beyond that of his personal endow-
ment. As long as he is within that order, though he himself ages, and his
own gifts might decline, his authority remains.
Another difference between leadership and authority is seen in the
respective correlatives of leader and authority. The correlative of leader
is follower , while that of authority is sub.iect .
Today we are particularly nervous about such words as "subject,"
"inferior," "superior." We like to transpose such terms into those that
are more congenial, which in some way horizontalize all of our relation-
ships. We like to see all of our relationships in terms of arm-in-arm,
and face-to-face, and side-by-side. In any kind of organization we have
to be co-workers, co-members, cooperators, associates on an equal basis,
partners with everyone else, where the main function of authority is service.
Maybe some of this is an over-reaction to too much verticality in our
lives in the past, and there is no use in rubbing salt into our sensitive
wounds by using vocabulary which many might find abrasive. However, it
is necessary to keep in mind, no matter what terminology we use, that by
its very nature authority implies subjection of one's will to another,
just as leadership implies having followers. We can no more drop the
idea of subject when we are speaking of authority than we can drop the
idea of follower when we are speaking of leader.
A further difference between authority and leadership is seen in the
different ways in which we react . Authority in a sense is always guilty
until proven innocent, while leadership is always innocent until proven
guilty. A person in authority seems to embody in some way the sign of
contradiction of Christ's own authority. As one whose function is to
transmit the imperative, and in this way to effect an ever convergent
unity, he becomes not the symbol of unity, but the symbol of oppression
in the minds of many. He is in a way exempted from the very civilities
which we accord to everyone else. He bears the brunt of the uncharitable-
ness of many who claim to live by the law of love.
The leadership of attraction does not meet with the same type of re-
sistance. This is possibly true because such leadership does not threaten
us as much. There is always a trapdoor which we can use to escape from
leadership, but there is no way out when we are under someone in authority.
For this reason those who are authority figures seem to evoke greater
antagonism in proportion to their power to unite effectively, where au-
thority is minimal, there is scarcely any antagonism. Where authority is
great, as say, for example, in that of the Holy Father, the antagonsim is
It is possible to explain this perhaps because of three reasons.
First of all, the power of the demonic manifests itself greater when
faced with greater efforts to bring about the centering of all things to
the Father in Christ. We see this in the resistance to Christ himself.
"We do not want this man to rule over us (Luke 19:1*0- The action of the
Jews in preferring Barabbas, a robber, a revolutionary, and a murderer,
is symbolic of much of the response of mankind to the authority of Christ.
For this reason, the Church will also be resisted until the end of time.
"If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own; but
because you do not belong to the world, because my choice withdrew you
from the world, therefore the world hates you. ... If they persecuted
me, they will persecute you too" (John 1 5 :18) • To the extent that au-
thority mediates the imperative of Christ to the world will it arouse
The second reason for such antagonism toward authority is psychological .
Fear plays a great part in the lives of all of us. We have as many causes
to fear as there are things or persons who threaten us. The threat does
not have to be on the level of physical punishment, but it is found on
any level where the presence of someone or something jeopardizes my own
existence, in what I have, or what I am, or what I shall be.
problem with authority figures. They act as a kind of *>. :.juujo1±c college
of all the threats a person feels. The greater the authority the more can
the person serve as the antagonistic symbol of all that arouses fear.
For this reason a person feels more threatened by authority than he
does by leadership. Authority implies subjection to the will of another,
while following a wonderful leader gives a person a certain self-satisfaction
of belonging. A follower shares in the glory of his leader. The idea of
subjecting one f s will to another, however, does not have the same conno-
The third reason why authority meets with resistance comes from the
very nature of authority which implies the transmission of the imperative
putting an obligation on our freedom to obey. There is nothing we prize
more than our independence. For this reason, there is nothing which
threatens us as much as authority which claims to make our freedom a de-
pendent freedom. It is not freedom as such that we prize so highly. It
is the independent use of our freedom.
For this reason we are not threatened but rather challenged by ethos .
•pneuma . or logos . On the contrary, we are threatened by nomos . If we only
realized, however, that we only become genuinely free to the extent that
we become dependent, then at least the theoretical aspect of our resistance
to legitimate authority would be solved. "Dependence" does not mean the
substitution of what comes from another to take the place of what should
come from myself. This would create a dependence which contradicts the
very nature of person. An illustration might help. An artist, for example,
depends on his inspiration to paint. It is his very dependence that sus-
tains his creative effort. He cannot create independently of his inspi-
ration. There is a certain parallel in the type of dependence of human
freedom on that nomos which is not simply impersonal, but which is the
expression of Christ's ethos , pneuma . logos . Christian freedom is mature
to the extent that one sub jects himself to his inspiration.
Many other differences, I am sure, could be pointed out between
leadership and authority. Hopefully we have commented on the main ones.
We saw that leadership depends on the attractive power coming from natural
endowment, while authority comes from "investiture," a being taken into
a certain order which gives a person both the right and the duty to trans-
mit the imperative that brings about convergent unity. Again, we saw that
strength of leadership is directly proportioned to the vitality of the
gifts on which it is based, while authority has a certain constancy which
is independent of personal attributes. Further, the difference is seen
in the correlatives of leadership and authority. In the one case the
correlative is follower, and in the other, subject. This led us to in-
quire into the phenomenon of resistance to authority, which is not found
in a similar way in the relationship of follower to the one who leads.
We suggested three reasons for this: firstly, the demonic discentering
power which is antagonistic to the Christie centering power; secondly,
the fact that authority serves as a symbol of a threatening presence, and
takes on the image of all that one fears; and finally because authority
by its nature demands a dependent freedom, while there is nothing we prize
so much as our independent freedom.
C. Problems of Leadership and Authority
The question of the problems of leadership and authority is a topic
that would require a paper in itself. Without claiming to exhaust the
subject, we can at least attempt to single out some of the main problems.
These problems can be distinguished as they touch authority or leader-
ship in themselves, or in their relationship to each other.
First of all, speaking of the problems of leadership, the main
problem is to find suitable leaders. Perhaps this is so obvious an ob-
servation that it could go unsaid. But it is an important fact. In a
sense leaders are born, not made, though this should not be taken too
strictly. A leader is like an artist. He is endowed with certain gi:
which develop more or less according to his opportunities to foster them.
It seems that in the Society we have always been blessed with leaders
This is due in God's providence to the type of man we have attracted, and
the kind of training given to our men. As a matter of fact it seems tha^
the esprit de corps of the Society comes more from the leaders it has had
in the various fields of eduction, social reform, missionary work, and the
like, than from those who are superiors.
At this point we should perhaps make explicit a caution which we
hope has been assumed throughout. Our description of the distinction and
differences between leadership and authority should not be taken to mean
that a person in authority is some kind of a spiritual antenna transmitting
imperatives to his subjects. Hopefully there will also be found in him in
more or less degree the qualities of leadership we described.
We stated above that our esprit de corps in the Society comes largely
from the leaders with whom we have been blessed. At the same time we should
realize that leadership can flourish only because it is one of the functions
of authority to promote the conditions conducive to the fostering of leader-
ship. In the Society it has been the constant insistance of authority that
has maintained the high level of training — a level which alone can produce
the kind of leadership that the world needs.
Besides the problem of finding suitable leaders there is a problem
of maintaining leadership . The leader has to remain ahead of the group
in order to attract. He has to freshen his gifts by assimilating all that
is valuable from his cultural milieu. It is possible that leaders today
are like the glowworms that last only for a few hours. Perhaps one reason
for this is the fact that they do not keep their own gifts alive by the
work that is necessary to grow continually.
Passing on to the problems of authority , we are sure to find agree-
ment when we say their name is legion. It is not necessary to develop
this point at length. First of all, there are the perennial problems.
Authority can, for example, become impersonal and consider itself only
as a means to keep good order so that the whole machine might run smoothly.
It can isolate itself from the members of the community, setting itself
apart, considering itself as something like an officer in relation to the
enlisted men. It can adopt a certain privileged status, where it sees
others in some way as its servants.
These and others are perennial problems facing authority. There is,
however, a problem which is peculiar to our own times. It is the temp-
tation to abdicate the specific nature of authority. Many in authority
today see their role only as advisory or exhortative. If this is literally
true, then they are not really in a position of authority, but have reduced
authority to what we have called leadership. The specific nature of au-
thority as authority is to transmit the imperative that brings about unity,
while authority may not often transmit such am imperative, it belongs to
its very nature. To transmit an imperative, however, one does not have
to use imperative language. It can be transmitted through requests, ad-
vice, counsel, where, however, a person can pick up the signals that in
this case the superior is not just acting as a co-ordinator, but as making
his will manifest in regard to a particular mode of action. If a person
is attuned, he can pick up the imperative in the exhortative. In a some-
what similar fashion the meaning of Christ 1 s parables was picked up by
those attuned to the meaning, and missed by those who were not.
We would like finally to speak of some problems between leadership
and authority. All of the problems touch on the complementarity of their
relationship. In some respects it is the same problem as that described
by the relationship between the charismatic and the institutional. It
is not easy to harmonize ethos , pneuma . and logos , with nomos, when these
are embodied not in one and the same person, but in different persons, as
is normally the case.
First of all, it is easier to get followers than it is to get sub-
jects. Leadership appeals to our sense of expanding freedom. Authority
connotes an ever diminishing freedom in the one obeying. For this reason,
authority frequently finds itself on the defensive where leadership has
become strong and is asserting its independence. In a way authority is
at the mercy of leadership, unless of course the one in authority can
exercise leadership on an equal or superior level to that of the competing
Unless leadership shows a high degree of responsibility to authority,
it becomes divisive. How many times we have witnessed this in the history
of the Church, as well as in the history of religious communities. Our
recent history is full of such examples particularly in religious con-
gregations where a certain group with strong leadership took over, often
in opposition to authority, with the result that the community was frag-
mented to a point where it is highly doubtful whether it can continue to
survive for any length of time.
Though it may sound undiplomatic in this ecumenical age, it, seems to
me that we have a prime example of this in Martin Luther. His qualities
of leadership were extraordinary. But they were developed and gained
momentum by isolating themselves from the complementary role of authority.
The mutuality of these respective roles of leadership and authority
is not easy to work out in practice. Yet, unless authority fosters leader-
ship, and leadership is open to authority, we have civil war, where the
blood of brothers is spilt upon the battlefield of one's own community.
The energies that should be directed outward to building the earth and
the Kingdom of God are wasted on internecine strife, and we have one more
verification of Mephistopheles 1 words in Gounod's Faust : "Et Satan conduit
It would be interesting if we had the time and space to attempt to
speculate on the qualities of the ideal leader and the ideal authority.
Such a description would certainly have to see the Christie unity ef-
fected by leadership and authority as effective to the extent that the
leader is both drawn by Christ, and draws others to him by the trans-
parency of his own life to the ethos , pneuma . and logos of Christ.
Christian authority is effective to the degree that it is faithful both
to the content of Christ's imperative and to the way that he transmitted
this imperative, through suffering service. Christian authority is only
fully credible if one lives according to the nomos which he transmits .
In this age of specialization it is necessary to realize the dis-
tinction between authority and leadership. At the same time, in this
age of fragmentation, it is necessary more than ever to realize their
mutual complementarity. If the Society of Jesus is to move forward, and
bring the Kingdom of Christ closer to realization by its own leadership
in the world, then we have to have leaders who are truly leaders in the
best sense of the term, who share their God-given gifts with us and with
others. Our training must promote leadership, not in the sense that every
Jesuit will be recognized as a great leader, but in the sense that we have
to stand ahead in order to draw others to closer unity. We cannot give
what we do not have. We cannot draw others to a level which we do not
possess ourselves. Similarly those who have authority over us in the Lord
have to continue to minister to us what is our right and their duty, to
mediate to us the imperative of Christ.
Hopefully our superiors will also possess a large degree of leader-
ship. In any case, it is their function to foster this leadership among
the community. What we have said can be summed up in the words of St.
Paul: "There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are
all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in
all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who
is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is
given to each person is for a good purpose. ... Be ambitious for the
higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any
of them" (1 Cor. 12:4-7, 3 1 ) • He goes on to describe the meaning of
Christian love which is the source, the life force, and the goal of
Christian leadership and authority.
II. Comments after the Introduction, from Different Points of View
A. By William W. Meissner, S.J., Psychiatrist
He approached the topic from the viewpoint of his studies in psychol-
ogy and psychiatry, and began by treating the distinction between au-
thority and leadership. Only in the last fifteen or twenty years has
this distinction been grasped and made truly functional by those inter-
ested in this problem and its ramifications.
Our thought should be about different levels. There is a strong
tendency, especially in the Society of Jesus, to think of authority in
terms of formal organization, our hierarchical structure as spelled out
in the ( onstitutions. But there is also a level at which that authority
is translated into execution. One problem is that what is dictated by or
deducible from the formal structure is completely different from what goes
on in the order of exercising authority. Authority does not function in
the way the formal treatises might lead one to think.
The formal approach to authority regards it as investing an individual
with power to influence the behavior of others, in certain loci within the
organizational structure, by reason of office. It is based on law. But
there are many other bases on which such influence can be exerted; for
example, power to reward, or to punish, or power of expertise of know-
One of the most important bases is what is called referent power. In-
dividuals identify with each other. They share in common goals and values;
and this sharing gives them a common point of reference with one another,
especially in what they are trying to do together. Here, therefore,
leadership is set up on a different basis than authority. While authority
remains in the appointed superior, leadership is diffused throughout the
group; and it involves the contribution which each member makes to the
goals of the group. It consists in the ability of each member of a group
to contribute to its group goals. Here leadership almost becomes synony-
mous in concept with membership. There are various ways of contributing:
"push- influence," influence by drawing out others, and so on.
Father Sheets f remarks brought these reflections to my mind. The
classic treatises on leadership (of Plato, Macchiavelli, and the like)
treat of the leader as an individual and his characteristic traits. But
when you try to pick leaders by singling out these traits, this approach
falls flat. Thirty or forty years ago, for example, in 19^1 when the
military wanted to find leaders fast and train them as officers, they
asked: How do you identify such potential leaders? They shifted from a
trait-approach to a situation-approach: How do men act in certain sit-
uations? The disconcerting discovery was this: In different situations,
different men showed different capacities for leadership. Some good in
one situation were poor in others. Hence, leadership came to be recognized
as something exercised in and by a group. You do not have a well-functioning
group unless leadership is being exercised in it, in terms of there being
some differentiation of function in the members. The composition and
goals of the group elicit or facilitate certain qualities of leadership
among certain apt members. Only when all these factors are in conjunc-
tion does the leader emerge.
Studies on how to pick leaders are now in unsatisfactory flux. These
seem to be the only factors which turn up consistently: The leaders are
intelligent, discerning and imaginative persons, convinced of and com-
mitted to the goals of the group, and recognized by the members as being
committed. Thus the leader becomes one whom the group selects because he
is capable and committed.
This raises a question for leadership in the structure of the Church
or the Society, where the leader has traditionally been an authority
figure, one simply appointed from outside the group. That procedure
leaves a gap, and the question arises: will the group by its consensus
endorse the externally appointed authority- figure as also its leader?
Sometimes it does; but sometimes too it does not, and then he finds it
difficult to exercise any function of true leadership.
B. By William J. 3urke, S.J.
He presented various ideas of modern authors on leadership and sup-
plemented them by discriminating observations of his own. Leadership must
be distinguished from organizational apparatus. The leader must exercise
a prophetic role which will often involve him in a dialectic of tension
with his community. He cannot be merely the embodiment of the group* s
transient desires, since these may be only compensations or short-lived
enthusiasms. His vision will at least involve the ability to foresee the
future effects which logically will flow from present decisions. Leader-
ship is impossible wherever those who are led have neglected or failed to
achieve their own personal maturity. It is also impossible wherever they
have failed to understand the mode of their membership in the group.
Transposition, without correction, of the canons of business leader-
ship into the area of religious leadership appears unwise. The leader may
be the victim of the group; he must sacrifice for them in the Old Testament
sense. In a way, it seems doubtful that anyone should "follow" anyone
else. The leader encourages and empowers each individual to confront his
own providential destiny.
The leader must confront and redeem the Demonic force, since his
leadership is not solely tactical and natural. He is involved in the
mystery of the lives and other powers in the members of the group. He
must conciliate and mediate the qualitatively different powers of Apollo
and Dionysus. The power of leadership is, perhaps, best given to the
Some sources used are: Aquaviva, John of Salisbury, Aristotle's
Politics, Tamkien, Philip Slater, Theodore Roszak, Edward Alber, John
Gardner, John Galbraith, Erik Erikson, Gandhi, and others.
C. By Thomas E. Clarke, S.J.
He spoke from the viewpoint of one exploring ( 1 ) the model of the
superior suggested in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus (espe-
cially, for example, in [423-428, 666-667, 723-735]), and (2) modifi-
cations of that model which are possibly desirable today.
In the context of Ignatius 1 vision of the Society as dedicated to "the
service of the Church through the aid of souls in companionship" (as de-
scribed in John C. Putrell, S.J., Making an Apostolic Community of Love , page
14 and passim), the superior, particularly the superior general, emerges as
the one who is especially concerned for the universal good. He has both (1)
a directive, goal-orientated role and (2) a unitive, community orientated
role. I have the impression, possibly superficial, that in Part IX of the
Constitutions . Ignatius 1 accent is on the directive rather than on the uni-
tive function; or, perhaps better, that it is the strong distinction of a
united apostolic effort which is the main focus of the Superior's concern.
In the light of the distinction between authority and leadership,
it should be said that leadership is dealt with throughout the Constitu -
tions . not merely in Part IX.
what I find missing, understandably, in Part IX of the Constitutions
and present in contemporary thinking about the leadership which authority
can exercise, is an a'^tentiveness to the evocative character of such
However, two ideas found in Part IX chime in with more modern notions
of the exercise of authority: (1), place is made for consultation; (2),
it is recognized for example, in the argumentation for the value of a
lifelong term for the general that the general, to be effective, must
possess a certain prestige ( auctoritas , [721 J). That is, there must be
factors besides sheer juridical empowerment which invite a positive re-
sponse to his leadership from the members.
D. By John H. Wright, S.J.
In 1964 a symposium was held at Alma, California, on "Leadership and
Authority in the Modern Society of Jesus." Father Wright briefly reported
and commented on what each of those words came to mean in that symposium:
Leadership — is the capacity to influence others in a given situation
toward some goal or objective. This can be realized in many different ways.
The chief ones are: (1) the "charismatic." This is not a collection of
unusual personal traits but a matter of (a) seeing and articulating a
goal, (b) being and seen to be unselfishly dedicated to that goal, and
(c) being genuinely involved with one f s followers and thus able to re-
lease their creative powers; (2) the "administrative." This senses a
practical way of achieving a goal on which the group is already determined;
and (3) the "executive." This is ability to gather cooperation in working
toward a goal.
And -- that is, to be distinguished from, although it is often united
Authority — the capacity to speak for the whole group. The person
with legitimate authority may be designated in many different ways, but
his effectiveness supposes always the consent of the group. This consent
is not necessarily the source of his authority but is the indispensable
condition of its effectiveness, even if the consent is grudgingly given.
As one speaking for the whole g'roup he can bind its members to its goals
and methods .
l — this indicates embodiment within an institution. An idea
cannot survive effectively without institutionalization. And probably it
can effectively survive institutionalization itself only if the members
are more alive to the goals of the group than to group 1 s survival as a
The — this indicates a definite, actually existing body of men.
Modern — that is, a Society continuous with our past history through
identity of the Ignatian spirit continuously transmitted, yet a Society
open to new goals and to new means. This develops through sincere search-
ing, and sometimes in reaction to a depersonalized institutionalism.
Society — that is, (1) an institutional structure or organization,
(2) a community bound by a common spirit and goal, (and 3) a "family"
gathered in Christ, by the Spirit, under God our Father. A superior is
expected to function on each of these levels of the Society; but he must
function first at the deepest level, "family." Likewise, each Jesuit
exercises some leadership on all three levels as well.
Of — that is, we belong not to ourselves but to Christ.
Jesus . He is the leader through his Spirit, the model through his
life and death, and the head through his grace. Our response of dedi-
cation and obedience, made to leadership and authority, is his life in us.
The books available from the Institute of Jesuit Sources:
Saint Ignatius of Loyola
Society of Jesus
Translated, with an Introduction
and a Commentary, by
Pages xii + 420
George E. Ganss, S.J.
The first English translation of the
entire corpus of St. Ignatius' Con-
stitutions, which are a classic of
spiritual doctrine and of the law of
The Role of the Superior
St. Ignatius of Loyola
JOHN CARROLL FUTRELL, S.J.
Pages vii -I- 232
The theory and practice of spiritual
discernment, especially for community
A Modern Scriptural
Approach to the
DAVID M. STANLEY, S.J.
Originally given as a retreat to Jesuit
scholastics, this work
explains what the modern approach in
scriptural study is
is a concrete example of its use in
making or directing a retreat
presents up-to-date scriptural and doc-
trinal foundations for prayer
Pages xvi + 358
"... the spirituality flows immediate-
ly and smoothly from the biblical
interpretation. This is genuine biblical
Current Scripture Notes
The Jesuits: Their
A historical study by
JOSEPH DE CUIBERT, S.J.
W. J. Young, S.J., Translator
PART I: St. Ignatius, 1491-1556, his
personal interior life
PART II: Developing the spiritual
PART III: Some general aspects
Extensive Bibliography and Index
Pages xxv + 692
The most comprehensive and scholar-
ly work available on the topic
Expounds St. Ignatius' spirituality of
These pages 82 and Sj> give
a check list of all the books
at present available from the
Institute of Jesuit Sources.
This Institute, which pub-
lishes books, is distinct from
the American Assistancy Seminar
on Jesuit Spirituality, which
publishes the series of bro-
chures, Studies in the Spiritu-
ality of Jesuits . However, both
organizations have many purposes
in common. Hence many readers
of these Studies will probably
find it useful to have the list
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Please send me the following books:
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CITY AND STATE ZIP CODE
about Easter, 1972
of the Society of Jesus
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THE TITLES SO FAR PUBLISHED IN THIS SERIES
These Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits are presently published
at irregular intervals, usually three or more a year; but the volumes are
numbered according to the years. Thus, those published in 1969 make up
Volume I, those in 1970 Volume II, and those in 1971 Volume III.
The Numbers Published So Far Are These:
Vol. I, no. 1 (September, 1969). John R. Sheets, S.J. A Profile of the
Contemporary Jesuit: His Challenges and Opportunities
no. 2 (November, 1969). George E. Ganss, S.J. The Authentic
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius: Some Facts of History
and Terminology Basic to Their Functional Efficacy Today.
Vol. II, no. 1 (February, 1970) . William J. Burke, S.J. Institution and
II, no. 2 (April, 1970). John Carroll Futrell, S.J. Ignatian
II, no. 3 (September, 1970). Bernard J. F. Lonergan, S.J. The
Response of the Jesuit, as Priest and Aposxle, in the
Vol. Ill, no. 1 (February, 1971). John H. Wright, S.J. The Grace of Our
Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation.
III, no. 2 (April, 1971). Vincent J. O'Flaherty, S.J. Some Reflec-
tions on the Jesuit Commitment.
Ill, no. 3 (June, 1971). Thomas E. Clarke, S.J. Jesuit Commitment —
Fraternal Covenant? John C. Haughey, S.J. A New Perspec-
tive on Religious Commitment.
Ill, no. 4 (September, 1971). Jules J. Toner, S.J. A Method for
Communal Discernment of God's Will.
III, no. 5 (November, 1971). John R. Sheets, S.J. Toward a Theology
of the Religious Life. A Sketch, with Particular Reference
to the Society of Jesus.
Vol. IV, no. 1 (January, 1972). David B. Knight, S.J. Saint Ignatius'
Ideal of Poverty
IV, no. 2 (March, 1972). Two Discussions: (1) Spiritual Direction.
(2) Leadership and Authority.
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